Friday, May 13, 2011

The Physicians Foundation Awards $1 Million Grant to Health Leads

May 11, 2011 - Yesterday the Physicians Foundation, a charitable organization representing physicians in state medical societies nationwide, put its money where its heart is.

The Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to Health Leads, a Boston non-profit to help it expand from its current base of six cities to other locales across the land.

The Physician Foundation-Health Leads collaboration is a natural partnership. Both the Physicians Foundation and Health Leads are organizations who think “outside the box” to help vulnerable citizens find resources outside the mainstream of care.

Physicians often find themselves trapped in a box, unable to help patients find food for their stomachs, heat for their homes, transport to medical facilities, jobs to supply the money to pay for care, decent homes in safe neighborhoods. These basics are simply beyond the reach of the current health system or the current reforms designed to improve care.

Health Leads works in 22 pediatric and prenatal clinics, newborn nurseries, emergency rooms, and community health centers in six cities across the U.S. Last year, Health Leads trained and deployed 660 college volunteers to connect nearly 6,000 low-income patients and their families to the resources they need to be healthy. By providing a transformative experience for hundreds of college volunteers, Health Leads is producing a pipeline of new leaders who will have both the conviction and the skills to transform health care from the bottom-up.

How does Health Leads make this transformation possible ?

• One, by giving doctors the power to “prescribe” food, shelter, job training, and transportation by writing prescriptions to find these resources.

• Two, by recruiting college volunteers to serve at Health Desks in various health care settings to direct patients and families to community resources, in the process serving as a training ground for health careers and as a sort of domestic Peace Corps.

In the hospitals and health centers where Health Leads operates, doctors can “prescribe” food, housing, or other critical resources—just as they would medication. Patients take their prescriptions to the clinic waiting room, where Health Leads’ college volunteers are ready to connect them to these resources. Nearly 60 percent of Health Leads patients secure at least one critical resource – receive food, get their heat turned back on, find a job – within 90 days of getting their “prescription.” All patients receive ongoing follow-up until their needs are met.

“As we continue to identify new ways to enhance healthcare delivery, we are extremely proud to fund the ongoing efforts of Health Leads,” said Dr. Walker Ray, Vice President of The Physicians Foundation and Chair of the Research Committee. “In a system that is massively overburdened by strained resources, innovative models that foster collaboration between college volunteers and physicians can have real impact on our nation’s healthcare.”

The Physicians Foundation’s funding will help Health Leads expand its operational capabilities, allowing the organization to serve significantly more patients. By developing an information technology infrastructure to enhance tracking of patient outcomes and by hiring additional program managers and staff, Health Leads will be able to deepen engagement with physicians and clinic partners.

“Health Leads is grateful for the assistance of The Physicians Foundation in helping us to build the capacity we need to scale our program model over the next four years. Since we received their funding, we have been able to serve more than 2,600 patients, putting us on track for an increase of more than 60 percent over last year,” said Rebecca Onie, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Health Leads.

“We have also launched discussions to build an evaluation partnership with the Mayo Clinic Center and rolled out a new client database to all of our sites that will enable us to better track and report client outcomes. The Foundation's support has been invaluable in helping us make significant progress on these strategic goals."

Tweet: The Physicians Foundation, a doctor organization, has awarded a $1 million to Health Leads, to help patients find food, housing, & jobs.

Richard L. Reece, MD, has posted 1770 blogs at medinnovation blog over the last four years. His main themes are health reform and innovation and how they impact physicians and American culture. He works closely with the Physicians Foundation. His opinions are his alone. He has written eleven books. His latest book, The Health Reform Maze, is now at Greenbranch publishers and will be released in June. Doctor Reece’s website,, is now up and running He invites comments and questions on his blog and will respond to each comment or question on his blog or to him directly at 860-395-1501 or

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